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Valerie Milot - Orbis / CBC: First Play

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On her last album, released in 2013, harpist Valérie Milot played the three best-known concertos for her instrument. Handel, Boieldieu, Mozart was praised by Le Devoir as "probably the greatest Quebec album of the year." Milot follows up that release with Orbis - streaming above until its release on March 4 - an album that by contrast explores the furthest reaches of the harp's repertoire: music by Steve Reich, John Cage, Marjan Mozetich, Frank Zappa and Gentle Giant. "When your instrument is the harp, you have to be polyvalent," writes Milot to CBC Music via email. "I like to play all sorts of music, as long as it is coherent with my classical discipline. To me, the music of Frank Zappa and Gentle Giant has a lot of classical music sources, especially for its contrapuntal motions."

Above all, Orbis is a personal statement from Milot, who marks her 30th birthday with the album's release and who arranged and recorded the music during her pregnancy with her first child, Simone, to whom the project is dedicated. "Simone was present at every step of its creation, even in my belly when the picture on the cover was taken," says Milot. Her husband, composer/violinist Antoine Bareil, performs on a number of tracks and contributes a new work, Castille 1382, that receives its world premiere on Orbis. "Antoine is very important in my artist's life, as our relation started as we formed a musical duo, nine years ago," explains Milot. "He is my best musical partner, so I could say there is no real distinction between my domestic life and my life as an artist. Our music and business are integrated with our personal lives, and with good organization and a lot of help from our nanny and family, Simone is now happily part of it."

The album also brings together some of Milot's best musical friends, including Les Violons du Roy, soprano Marianne Lambert and some fine chamber musicians from her native Quebec.


1. Marjan Mozetich: El Dorado With Les Violons du Roy, conducted by Mathieu Lussier

2-4. Steve Reich: Electric Counterpoint I - II - III

5. John Cage: In a Landscape

6. Antoine Bareil: Castille 1382 (inspired by Jacob de Senleches) With Marianne Lambert, soprano

7. Gentle Giant: As Old as You're Young

Arr. Valérie Milot and Antoine Bareil

With Antoine Bareil (violin), Dominic Girard (double bass), Anne-Julie Caron (marimba) and Ziya Tabassian (percussion).

8. Frank Zappa: G-Spot Tornado Arr. Valérie Milot With Jocelyne Roy (flute), Antoine Bareil (violin), François Vallières (viola) and Raphaël Dubé (cello).